Mineral Mastery: Discovery and Control of Ore Deposits After the Baltic War


Kipling may have thought that only “Iron—Cold Iron—is master of them all,” but there are quite a few minerals which will be of military and economic importance in the “new” 1630s.

This essay updates the economic geography of the 1632 universe from the end of 1632 (see Runkle, “Mente et Malleo: Practical Mineralogy and Minerals Exploration in 1632,” Grantville Gazette 2) to the end of the Baltic War, and looks at the strategic minerals situation of all the major powers, not just Grantville.

Which deposits were known to the down-timers and which weren’t? Which “new” deposits can be located, with reasonable exactitude, from up-time texts? Given the transport network of the time, which can be developed readily? And which mines are controlled by which of the great powers?

Economic Warfare

In the seventeenth century, governments took a nonchalant attitude toward trading with the enemy. It wasn’t a crime; at most you might have to pay extra fees for the privilege. Not only could you sell iron, you could even sell weapons.

But by the eighteenth century, Britain recognized the strategic importance of America and the Baltic as sources of naval stores: lumber for masts; turpentine and tar for waterproofing the hull. It became British policy to ensure that no other European power controlled the Baltic.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Union blockade of the Confederacy was intended to block cotton exports, and imports of strategic materials (the South received 60% of its arms, 75% of its gunpowder, and more than a third of its lead, from abroad). (Naylor, 15).

One of Germany’s goals in the peace negotiations which concluded the 1870 Franco-Prussian War was, arguably, to deny France the coal and iron of Alsace-Lorraine. (Cerf, 121).

In the twentieth century, Japan excused its land-grab in southeast Asia as necessary to protect its supply of oil, rubber and tin (and surely recognized that at the same time, it was denying them to Britain and the United States). The United States has stockpiled strategic materials since 1939, to reduce its vulnerability to wartime interruptions of its foreign commerce.

The sovereigns of Europe, and their ministers, have been avidly reading about up-time history, and some, at least, have learned to think about denying resources to their enemy while protecting their own supplies. A case in point is the French raid on Wietze, during the Baltic War.

Dependency on Foreign Imports

Even if the monarchs of Europe don’t stop the practice of selling to the enemy, they are certainly subscribers to the mercantile philosophy of reducing dependence on foreign imports. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both England and France attempted to coax Venetian glassmakers to desert the Most Serene Republic. In the eighteenth century, the Bourbons offered a prize for whoever could make “soda” (sodium carbonate) from seawater, at a price competitive with foreign soda (which was made from the ash of the Spanish saltwort or Scottish seaweed).

Political Restrictions

We can distinguish several different levels of political restriction on mineral availability:

•— Current Control – the mineral can be found within the present territory of the power.

•— Effective Control – the mineral is in a location which only the power in question can readily acquire.

•— Open Access – the mineral is in a territory which is controlled by a friendly power, and not readily interdicted by an enemy power.

•— Debatable Access – the mineral is in a territory controlled by a neutral power, or in a territory for which the trade route is interdictable by an enemy power, or in an up-for-grabs region.

•— Access on Sufferance – the mineral is in a territory controlled by an enemy power.

Economic Restrictions

There are also economic restrictions on the practicality of mining a deposit. The price which the metal can be sold for, the value of associated metals, the level of demand, the size of the deposit, the cost of extracting the metal (and perhaps associated metals) from the ore (either near the mine site or elsewhere), and the cost of transporting the ore to the smelter and the metal to its market, dictate what is the minimum acceptable grade. In the early twentieth century, one might want an iron ore which was at least 25-50% iron, but accept lead at as low as 5% ore. Cripple Creek’s average ore was 1.5 ounces gold/ton. (Lindgren 14ff; Beyschlag 206; Crane 602).

Only those deposits which are near the coast, navigable rivers, or the new railroad lines are likely to be developed rapidly. See Cooper, “Hither and Yon” ( Grantville Gazette 11). Proximity to a population center helps in terms of providing miners and logistical support.

Also, while the demand for the “new” metals will increase much more rapidly than in OTL, and they will command relatively high prices, it may still take a decade or more for a “new” metal-based mining colony to turn a profit. And the same is true, albeit to a lesser degree, for any mining settlement outside the homeland.

Up-time knowledge will change the demand for the metals, and the efficiency of extraction and transport, and thus affect the mining industry in a complex manner. During the nineteenth century, world production of iron, lead, zinc, copper and tin doubled every twenty years. (Beyschlag 207), but changes will be faster in the new time line, at least initially.

In 1600, Western European iron production was about 125,000 tonnes (1.6 kilograms/person)(Prak 81), and per capita consumption was probably similar. In 1900, per capita iron consumption was about 400 pounds in America and Great Britain, 60 in Russia. (International Yearbook).

Any rapid increase in iron production will require both conversion from wood to coal as the energy source (already underway pre-RoF in England) and a concomitant increase in coal production. Coal consumption in 1900 America was 3.5 pounds/person. (National Conservation Commission).

Consumption of metals used primarily in steel alloys will be proportional to steel consumption. For some metals, it could take decades for European production of steel to reach the point that it is necessary to import supplies from overseas. Nonetheless, I expect that the development of these overseas sources will begin in the 1630s. Many OTL European colonies were established without knowing whether there were any useful minerals in the vicinity, and quite a few colonization and trading “companies” came to grief. The NTL colonies, founded on the basis of up-time information, know that there is a metal, which is or ultimately will be of commercial value, to be found, even if they aren’t precisely sure when the demand for that metal will be sufficient to make the colony profitable. If investors are willing to take the long view, they have a good expectation of success.

Key Minerals

My present interest is primarily in those minerals, especially scarce ones, whose desirability or availability could affect stories set in 1635-39. But bear in mind that it was de rigeur to start colonies which could not be expected to have significant exports until 5-10 years later.

Table 1: Key Minerals


Old and New Uses

Structural MetalAlloying ElementOther
Important even in 1631-35
gold, silver coal, oil, natural gas iron copper 
aluminum magnesium platinum tier 1: manganese, nickel, chromiumX
Cobalt **     
Nickel **     
Copper ****    
Silver  ******* 
Gold   **  *
Mercury   *   
Lead    ** *
Tin     * 

Aluminum. To make aluminum, you first need to extract alumina from bauxite. Large-scale commercial production of aluminum then requires electrolytically refining aluminum from alumina, which requires great quantities of electricity, and cryolite as a flux. Cryolite is found in commercial quantities only in Greenland. In Mackey, “Land of Ice and Sun” ( Grantville Gazette 11), a De Geer-sponsored expedition mines cryolite for a season, and in Offord, “Dr. Phil’s Family” ( Grantville Gazette 10), cryolite is synthesized.Alloying Elements. In 1919, the world production of manganese was less than 1% that of iron, and of chromium less than 1% that of manganese. Molybdenum, tungsten and cobalt production was even smaller. In 1907, nickel production was 0.02% iron. (Beyschlag 207). Even in the modern USA, while annual consumption of iron ore is over 50 million tons; consumption of manganese is only about one million, chromium 600,000 and nickel 200,000; that of each of the “tier 2” elements is in the tens of thousands, and of vanadium in the thousands. (USGS). So we should be able to make do with small deposits of the tier 2 and 3 ores for quite a long time.

Copper, Lead and Zinc. These have uses other than an as additives to iron, but in 1890 world production was 1%, 2% and 1.5%, respectively, that of iron.

Magnesium. Extractable from salt brines, and hence available to all of the coastal nations. Hence, I haven’t paid much attention to the location of magnesite deposits.

Vicarious Prospecting

By vicarious prospecting, I mean the identification of mineral localities by studying up-time books. Commercially exploitable concentrations of useful minerals are found on less than 0.1% of the land, worldwide (SME 21), so it helps to have a few useful hints from the future.

In the more populated regions, many of the deposits of gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, tin, sulfur and mercury which could be identified by “vicarious prospecting” are already known to the down-timers. The same is true to a lesser degree for coal, oil, antimony and zinc ore, which were specialty chemicals as of the RoF.

That said, even in Europe, there are many mines which, in our time line, were discovered after 1631. These include Kiruna in Sweden (ore seam is 4km long, 80-120m thick, >60% iron), Chalanches(silver discovered 1767 by goatherd searching for strayed kid) and La Gardette (gold discovered 1700) in the French Alps (Isere), and Hiendelaencina, Guadelahara, Spain (silver discovered 1843).(Phillips, 231, 249, 367).

The up-timer’s identifications can be classified as follows:

old mine, old metal—these just reassure the down-timers that the up-timers know what they’re talking about. It should also be acknowledged that there will be seventeenth century mines which are not shown in the up-time texts. Perhaps the mine was too small by twentieth century standards to list; or by the twentieth century it was uneconomical to exploit because of the depletion of the economically useable ore or competition with newer mines.

old mine, new metal—The Koppartorp in Sweden started as a copper mine (1420s), but subsequently (1750) produced cobalt. New metal isn’t necessarily one which is truly new, it can be one which just wasn’t considered useful previously, like nickel.

You may take advantage of metal associations (associated metals grouped in same column of table below: ** strongly * weakly; e.g., manganese, iron and cobalt are weakly associated; manganese and iron strongly):

Metalnew mine, old metal— the silver mines of northern Guadelahara, Mexico

new mine, new metal—all the deposits in Australia

“Old” is in the eye of the beholder. For example, the iron deposits of India may be well known to the Mughals but not to Europeans, and platinum is a new metal for the Europeans, but not necessarily for the Indians of C


Most encyclopedias just identify the country, or even the U.S. state or Canadian province in which the mineral is located. But that isn’t precise enough by itself to make prospecting feasible. It is useful as a clue as to the geographical region on which to focus additional research, but if you can’t find anything more, all you’re going to do is tell your agents in that region, “be on the lookout for X.” (I found the short-entry Columbia Encyclopedia (ColE) surprisingly useful in identifying the locations of mines, given a country of interest. )

Even when you have an encyclopedia which names a specific town, or an atlas which has a locality icon on a map, you shouldn’t go shopping for a yacht. The town may be just the closest settlement to the mine, which itself is miles away. And you better be able to find the town on a map. The atlas economic map may seem more reliable, but you don’t know whether the icon is centered on or merely touches the deposit, and the scale of a map (miles per inch) makes a big difference in how well the deposit is pinpointed. And even with scanners and image processing software, transferring the location to the main map isn’t trivial.

At best, you probably know the location of the deposit within 10-20 miles. That implies a search area of 300-1200 square miles, and depending on the areal extent and surface signs of the deposit, and the difficulty of the terrain, it could still take months, even years, to find it.


The up-time texts fall into three major categories: encyclopedias, atlases, and books for rockhounds and geologists.

Encyclopedias. There are at least ten different encyclopedias in Mannington WV, and therefore in Grantville (see Appendix 1).

Grantville has at least the 9th, 11th (EB11) and 15th (EB15) editions of Encyclopedia Britannica. Just to complicate matters further, the big encyclopedias are partially revised each year, even though they are nominally the same edition. EB11 often states specific ore localities, but of course is unaware of post-1911 discoveries. EB15 has resource maps for all continents save Africa. It also has a long article (Industries, Extraction and Processing) which provides a useful summary of refining methods, but is often too vague as to the source of the ore.

The World Book Encyclopedia (WBE) offers some economic maps (e.g., California, Japan), and also gives USGS data for which countries are the leading producers of particular metals.

There may be CDROM versions of EB15, WBE, and several digital only encyclopedias (Grolier’s, Compton’s, Encarta) in Grantville.

Secondly, with the exception of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (EB11), they are likely to have a bias toward North America (and EB11 has a clear bias towards Britain). That’s nice if the expedition is going to Maryland for chromium, but not so good if you want to find nickel in New Caledonia.

You are warned that Grantville’s encyclopedias are biased toward

* sources in England (EB11) or United States (others)

* “current” sources of the metal (thus ignoring deposits which were exhausted by the time of publication but which may be perfectly viable in 163x).

* the “important” deposits and may ignore a minor one which is nonetheless important in the 1632verse because of its location (e.g., bauxite in the Vogelsberg).

Atlases. I have reviewed over a dozen atlases, and only a handful provided economic maps identifying where specific minerals might be found. The others are useful only for finding localities mentioned by the encyclopedias, and getting a sense of the local terrain. The Hammond Citation World Atlas (HCWA), known to be in Mannington, was by far the most useful. The 1987 edition had 49 economic maps at the country or larger scale, as well as individual economic maps for each American state and Canadian province.

The careful reader will find that geographical names can be rather suggestive. For example, the gold seeker might be intrigued by the California county named “El Dorado”. South of St. Louis, we find the towns Hematite, Valles Mines, Mineral Point, Potosi, Leadwood, Leadington, Ironton, Rivermines, Mine, and Cobalt City.

Rockhounding, Mining and Geology Books. There are several rockhounding books in Mannington libraries (Appendix). There are two problems with these books. The first is that they have a American bias, and the other that they are more interested in show specimens than economic mining. The mining books are about coal, or the American West.

There will also be high school earth science and a few college geology books in town. The latter will typically have one chapter on mineral deposits. Gilluly, Principles of Geology offers a U.S. coal map, a world oil map, a plan of the Sudbury formation (but without any reference points), and a few other tidbits.


I think we can usefully distinguish three levels of vicarious prospecting:

Level I: Casual Search

A casual search, by definition, is one looking at only a few of the reference works in Grantville. A casual search may be prompted by access problems, language difficulties, time or budget constraints, laziness or prejudice (if the first encyclopedia confirms what you wanted to find, you might not keep looking and risk finding something contradictory).

Level II: Exhaustive Search

Scaling up from level I, you can look at more reference works, and you can use their indexes to find articles which aren’t primarily about the metal or the ore but which mention them.

By 1634, there are professional researchers in Grantville who (for a stiff price) will “mine data” from the library materials. If the ore essay refers to a particular geographical region, naturally they will look it up, too. For example, EB11 Chromite” mentions Unst, in Shetland (Scotland). But the article on Shetland says that chromite is also found at Hagdeale and the Heog Hills. Likewise, EB11 “Haematite” cites Lancashire, but the article on “Furness” is much more specific.

It helps, of course, if some up-timer remembers the geological importance of a particular locale. The EB11 “haematite” article doesn’t even mention the hematite deposits at Birmingham, Alabama, although the essay on that city directs attention to Red Mountain, a little to the south.

Until the encyclopedias are scanned and OCR’d so that they are electronically searchable, some of the relevant citations will be difficult to find. For example, Norway was the first importance source of nickel. EB11 and Encyclopedia Americana don’t even list Norway as a source. ColE does, but if you want to know where in Norway to look, you would have to find the entry for Aust-Agder (Nedenes) county. Which isn’t easy unless that entry is indexed under “nickel,” you have browsed the entire encyclopedia, or you can do a computer search.

There should be limited online search capability even in 1631 (at least Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia and Encarta, and perhaps also World Book and the New Encyclopedia Britannica, on commercial CD-ROMs). The smaller, “short entry” encyclopedias (like Columbia) will probably be converted for online searching by 1634-35, and the others later in the decade.

Level III: Extraordinary Knowledge (Lucky Break!)

Like level II, but also consider the personal libraries of those with relevant occupations and hobbies. Access to these will be more limited.

Specialist works (like Bateman, Economic Mineral Deposits) are unlikely, but if anyone has them, it will be Quentin Underwood (B.S. in Mining Technology), Ron Koch (M.E. in Mining Engineering) or Lolly Aossey (B.S. in geology, former oil well logger). However, it isn’t guaranteed, as a review of the required courses for those majors makes clear. And even books on mineral deposits may have more to say about how the minerals are formed than exactly where to find them.

Aerial Prospecting

Since a few airplanes and airships are available in NTL 1634, it should soon be possible to do aerial prospecting, and thus cover a lot of territory in a short period of time. Large concentrations of the iron ores magnetite, pyrrhotite and ilmenite can be detected with a magnetometer, and material of unusually high (various metal oxides, carbonates and sulfides) or low (salt) density with a torsion balance or gravimeter. Aerial prospecting will probably first be used in Russia, which has airships and has lots of land to survey.

Mineral Resources Within or Near the Territories of Selected Powers

To ascertain who controls a particular deposit, it is necessary to know the borders of the various world powers. For the purpose of this article, I assume that central European borders are as shown in Gorg Huff’s 1634 Peace Map. (Note 1). I have used other maps and histories to figure out as best I can the borders elsewhere in the world.

In general, it’s easier to say what a country has than what it lacks, because small or low concentration deposits are often disregarded until necessity forces their exploitation.

Exhaustive searching for the “knowable” sources of all economic minerals, in all countries, would require far more time than I could justify investing in this article. Hence, I mostly consulted one atlas (HCWA) and the element and ore entries in two encyclopedias (EB11; Encyclopedia Americana) in order to compile the deposit information for each country. No doubt additional deposits can be located if the characters go beyond this sort of casual search.


United States of Europe

At the conclusion of the Baltic War, the USE controlled most, but not all, of modern Germany. The exceptions were the states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Bavaria, but these weren’t quite coterminous with the modern states. The USE also included a part of northeastern Poland.

Leisering’s 1550 economic map of central europe shows that many iron mines were being worked in the belt running from Namur (modern Belgium) to Soest (Westphalia). It also shows active coal mining between Duisberg and Soest, and quicksilver (mercury) extraction somewhere between Trier and Worms.

Much attention will be given, post-RoF, to the “Agriculture, Industry and Resources” maps in the Hammond Citation World Atlas (HCWA). The one for Germany shows, with reasonable particularity, the locations of major deposits of coal, salt and potash, and lesser ones of those minerals, lignite, silver, copper, iron, lead, zinc, natural gas and oil.

EB11 is also useful, as its essays will usually identify at least the district, and sometimes the town, in which a particular metal is mined. Besides giving locations for minerals already mentioned, EB11/Germany advises that “nickel and antimony are found in the upper Harz; cobalt in the hilly districts of Hesse and the Saxon Erzgebirge; arsenic in the Riesengebirge; quicksilver in the Sauerland and in the spurs of the Saarbrucken coal hills. ”

The most important mining region of the USE is the Harz, on the border of Lower Saxony (not to be confused with the Electorate of Saxony) and Thuringia, and in the HCWA, this is shown as having deposits of iron, zinc, copper, lead, and silver. EB11/Harz Mountains says: “The Harz is one of the richest mineral storehouses in Germany, and the chief industry is mining, which has been carried on since the middle of the 10th century. The most important mineral is an especially argentiferous lead, but gold in small quantities, copper, iron, sulphur, alum and arsenic are also found. Mining is carried on principally at Klausthal and St Andreasberg in the Upper Harz.” The 1550 Leisering map shows silver mines flanking Goslar, and copper mines on the road between Erfurt and Magdeburg.

In northwest Germany, we have oil and gas fields which, as explained in Cooper, “Drillers in Doublets” ( Grantville Gazette 4), are associated with small salt domes. The Wietze field is referred to in 1632. The USE’s Upper Rhenish province (created by the peace treaty, 1634: The Baltic War, Chap 68) includes (in the County of Hanau-Lichtenberg) the oil field of Pechelbronn, NNE of Strassbourg, which in OTL was one of the principal French fields. This province also includes the Saar coalfields. In Westphalia we find coal, lead, zinc, and iron, and Hesse has iron, oil and gas. (HCWA).

Nickel and cobalt ores are known to the German copper and silver miners, but are considered to be waste material or worse. Once uses were found for these metals, the old mines were combed for nickel and cobalt. (The same associations of course occur elsewhere, too, including Austria, Hungary, France, Silesia, Sweden and Norway.)(Howard-White 50ff). Douglas Jones suggests that where electricity is available (Grantville and Magdeburg, initially), it will be economical to recover them in substantial quantities by electrolytic refining.

Pyrolusite (manganese ore) can be found at Ilmenau, Thuringia (EB11/Pyrolusite), and there is manganite at Ilfield in the Harz and in Ilmenau (EB11/Manganite). Spurr (107) says that Germany has extensive deposits of iron-bearing manganese ore of 12-30% manganese content. In 1908-13, it produced 260-330,000 tonnes of such mid-grade material (probably from Hessen and Waldeck in Rhenish Prussia), and 2.3-3 million of low grade (5-7%) ore (from Siegerland and Nassau). Its high-grading holdings are “negligible”, but apparently are to be found in Sachsen-Gotha, in veins weathered near the surface, and in Hessen and Waldeck. (96).

There are substantial deposits of salt and potash in the USE, e.g., at Halle and Stassfurt. Germany was the principal source of world potash until OTL 1925. (Bateman 802ff).

There are low-grade (iron-rich) bauxite (aluminum ore) deposits in the Vogelsberg Mountains. (Spurr 330, EB11/Laterite).

The Mansfeld copper mine (near Halle) is famous, but German copper production is relatively small and in the very long term (decades) the demand will outstrip the supply (Gregory 256, Weed 90). As long as the USE is allied to Sweden, that isn’t a serious problem.

There is iron in the Upper Palatinate (HCWA). These mines are referred to in both 1634: The Baltic War (Chapter 6) and 1634: The Bavarian Crisis (Chapters 20, 21), and two sites are on the Leisering map.

I confess to having been puzzled by the USE’s obsession with importing zinc from Japan (Flint, 1634: The Galileo Affair). There’s plenty of zinc ore in Germany, as illustrated by Offord, “Dr. Phil Zinkens a Bundle” ( Grantville Gazette 7). Germany accounted for 25% of 1913 world production (Spurr 298).

The telephone people in Grantville wanted graphite, because of its electrical properties. By April 1634, the USE embassy to Venice had ordered a supply of “good English graphite.” Flint and Dennis, 1634: The Galileo Affair, Chapter 29. Thanks to the USE’s military successes in the Baltic War, it can now mine graphite closer at hand, in Bavarian Passau (HCWA).

Greater Sweden (the Union of Kalmar)

The child of the shotgun marriage of Denmark and Sweden, the Union of Kalmar, controls Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Estonia, and the coast of modern Russia between Estonia and Finland.

The mineral resources of this region are quite impressive. They include major deposits of titanium (30 million tons ilmenite! —Bateman 625) and molybdenum (Stavanger-Oslo), and iron (Kiruna), and lesser ones of silver, gold, cobalt (SE Finland), chromium (head of Gulf of Bothnia), copper, iron, nickel (SE Finland), lead, uranium, vanadium (central Finland) and zinc (HCWA). Unfortunately, all the oil and gas appears to be well offshore. (HCWA doesn’t plot all of the EB11 mines, perhaps because of twentieth century depletion.) EB15 Europe map reveals a nickel deposit in southwest Finland (the Vammala Nickel Belt).

EB11/Sweden provides locations for iron, silver, lead, copper, zinc, iron, gold, coal, and cobalt. The cobalt site is Tunaberg; copper has been mined there since 1420s (286 tons ore/year in 1880s), but cobalt since OTL 1750s (mindat; Phillips 394).

There is also coal, silver, copper and iron in named districts in Norway (EB11/Norway). EB11/Finland is vaguer, but “Some gold is obtained in Lapland on the Ivalajoki.”

Some of the Swedish mines are quite old, such as the copper mines of Falun, or silver-lead mines of Sala (latter not shown by HCWA). However, I want to direct attention to the iron of Kiruna. This was discovered in 1647 (showcaves.com), but wasn’t really exploitable until transport problems were solved. “[i]n 1903 the northern railway was completed . . . , and the vast deposits at the hills of Kirunavara and Luossavara began to be worked. These deposits alone are estimated to have an extent exceeding one-quarter of the total ore fields worked in the country. The deposits are generally in pockets, and the thickness of the beds ranges from 100 to nearly 500 ft. at Kirunavara, up to 230 ft. at Gellivara, and in the midland fields generally from 40 to 100 ft., although at the great field of Grangesberg, in Kopparberg and Orebro Lan, a thickness of nearly 300 ft. is found. Nearly all the ore is magnetite, and in the midlands it is almost wholly free of phosphorus. The percentage of iron in the ore is high, as much as 66% in the Kirunavara-Luossavara ore; and little less in that of Grangesberg; this far exceeds other European ores . . . .” (EB11/Sweden).

Vicarious prospecting will also pay off in new copper finds in Norway at Sulitelma (OTL 1858, Wikipedia/Sulitjelma), Røros (OTL 1644, www.rorosinfo.com ), both shown by HCWA. Fortuitously, there is also chromite in the Røros district, with 15,000 tons produced 1830-75 (USGS1918, 682).

There are only small, low concentration (~1.5%) nickel deposits in Norway; nonetheless, 400,000 tons of nickel ore was mined in Norway up to OTL 1909. (Spurr 134)

The principal Norwegian iron mine is Klodeberg near the port of Arendal. Total production 1620s-1870s was 2-3 million tons ore (42-49% iron). (Beyschlag 294). The silver of Kongsberg was discovered (by children?) in 1623. Main mine produced ~2600 kilograms native silver and 670 tonnes of 0.28% silver ore in 1879. (Phillips 102, 386).

Overseas Activities

A Swedish colony has been planted at Paramaraibo, Suriname (Cooper, “Stretching Out 1: Second Starts,” Grantville Gazette 11), and is exporting bauxite (“Stretching Out 4: Beyond the Line”, Grantville Gazette 16). The returning vessel, on the way home, mined tar in Trinidad (and pirated gold and silver from Nicaragua).

Sakalucks, “Northwest Passage, Part 1” ( Grantville Gazette 22) describes the early organizational efforts (1633-34) of a Danish-based company which intends to start a colony at the south end of Hudson’s Bay, which will “provide a base for expeditions to locate and start mining operations for nickel and gold deposits.” (See “Up for Grabs,” below. )


This is the kingdom ruled by Wallenstein; Bohemia and Moravia are, roughly speaking, the modern Czech Republic. It has deposits of coal, lignite, iron, silver, lead, zinc, uranium, graphite and natural gas (HCWA). EB11 is complimentary concerning the resources of Bohemia: “Except salt, which is entirely absent, almost every useful metal and mineral is to be found . . . .” and Moravia has its own endowment.

Leisering reports sixteenth century exploitation of quicksilver south of Prague, and of silver in five deposits within about eight miles of the capital.

On the border between Bohemia and Saxony, we have the Erzegebirge Mountains. “As its name (Ore Mountains) indicates, it is famous for its mineral ores. These are chiefly silver and lead, the layers of both of which are very extensive, tin, nickel, copper and iron. Gold is found in several places, and some arsenic, antimony, bismuth, manganese, mercury and sulphur.” (EB11/Erzegebirge). Silver was discovered at Joachimstal in 1516 (SME 9), and tin was worked not far away (Leisering).


My initial perception of the geological potential of Don Fernando’s new kingdom, encompassing modern Holland and Belgium, was unfavorable. However, Phillips (251) says that “taking into account its limited area, Belgium is, in respect to its mineral wealth, one of the most productive countries of the world.” It offers coal (near Limburg, Mons and Liege), and, on the modern Dutch-German border, salt, oil and natural gas (HCWA). There was mid-sixteenth century exploitation of iron, coal and copper near Dinant, Namur and Luttich/Liege (Leisering). There is also lead and zinc. Indeed, the zinc has been mined at Kelmisberg since the fifteenth century to supply calamine (zinc ore) “to the foundries of Aix-la-Chappelle”, which, without knowing of its zinc content, “employed it in the manufacture of brass.” (Phillips 258).

Then there’s Groningen, in the northernmost province. This currently ranks as the fourteenth largest natural gas field (discovered 1959, OTL) in the world. HCWA provides the location of the main accumulation which is over 20 miles long. Overall, one of three wells drilled is productive in this region. (Breunese).

Still, the absolute mineral wealth of the Dutch is limited. On the other hand, they have a huge merchant navy, and thus the ability to import many minerals, and to pay for those imports with other trade goods. The Dutch are quite heavily involved in the gold trade in Africa, and have made inroads into the Portuguese trade with Asia.

Great Britain

The tin of Cornwall has been exploited since Phoenician times (SME 20). Coal was used in Roman Britain as a gemstone, and very occasionally as a fuel. (Freese 15).

Serious coal mining began in the 1200s, and the principal source was the Newcastle-on-Tyne field (23). As a result of timber depletion, coal became the main fuel in England by the end of Elizabeth’s reign (Freese 33). In 1610, it was predicted that because of drainage problems, the Newcastle supply would become unworkable in 21 years (53). By 1650, English coal output was over 2,000,000 tonnes (Smil 159). Coal production in 1700 was perhaps ten times greater than in 1550, and Britain was mining five times more coal than the rest of the world combined (Freese 56).

In 1550, there was mining of salt near Chester, Stourbridge and Boston; lead on the Trent; iron west of York and Doncaster; silver and lead in Cumbria; and of course coal near Newcastle. There was also gold mining southwest, and silver ESE, of Edinburgh. (Leisering).

The British have iron, coal, lead, tin, zinc, potash, natural gas, salt, and fluorspar deposits in England proper, and there is peat, lead, zinc and barite in Ireland (HCWA). Many of these deposits are not shown on the Leisering 1550 map.

As usual, HCWA doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, there is copper, antimony, and manganese in Cornwall (EB11/Cornwall); copper, manganese, and arsenic in Devon (EB11/Devonshire (Devon)); graphite in the Borrowdale mine of Cumberland (EB11/Pencil).


According to EB11: “The principal mines of France are coal and iron mines . . . . The Flemish coal-basin . . . produces 60% of the coal mined in France . . . . The department of Meurthe-et-Moselle (basins of Nancy and Longwy-Briey) . . . may be reckoned as one of the principal iron-producing regions of the world.”

However, this description of French strength can be a bit misleading insofar as NTL 1634 is concerned. By an interesting accident of geography, some of the most important OTL French deposits lie close to the modern Franco-German border: coal near Lille and Denain; coal and iron southeast of Longwy, oil (Pechelbronn field) northeast of Strassbourg. And not coincidentally, there is coal on the other side of that border; east of Aachen and north of Saarbrucken. (HCWA).

In NTL 1634, the Pechelbronn oil and Saarbrucken coal are in USE hands. Lille and Denain are part of the “Spanish” Netherlands. Longwy and Brioy are in the Lorraine-controlled Duchy of Bar, and Nancy in that of Lorraine, although there is probably some iron in the French enclave/protectorate of Metz (which may soon become a Dutch Hapsburg protectorate, see 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, chapter 64). The region east of Aachen is part of the neutral Duchy of Julich.

There are minor deposits of coal and iron within France proper. Leisering’s 1550 map shows that iron was then mined SW of Toulouse, NW of Rennes, ESE of Nevers, near Langres, and SSW of Lyon, and coal south of Lyon. The Leisering map also shows numerous salt deposits, but is not revealing insofar as other minerals are concerned.

HCWA, however, reveals tungsten in the Pyrenees and the Massif Central; bauxite in Herault and northeast of Toulouse; lead and zinc near Albi; asbestos southwest of St. Etienne. EB11/France identifies various localities for coal, iron, zinc, lead, manganese and antimony. As usual, it pays to check the essays on smaller geographic areas; EB11/Isere states that Isere contains “silver, lead, coal and iron mines” even though only coal is shown by HCWA.

HCWA shows oil in Landes (SW France) and, denied Pechelbronn, the French may seek out this alternative. The good news is that this is the Parentis oil field, one of the most important in Western Europe. The bad news is it lies quite deep; geophysical methods were needed to detect the structure and the discovery well (1954) struck oil at 7300 feet.

Mining has had a checkered history in France. Mining was generally abandoned from the thirteenth century to the beginning of the sixteenth, and then again from sometime during the Thirty Years War to the beginning of the eighteenth. (Phillips 230). Hence, it isn’t clear which of the mines known to the down-timers (some indeed known to the pre-Roman Gauls) are actually in operation in 1634.

That said, there are commercially significant deposits in France which weren’t known prior to the RoF. For example, the silver-lead lodes at Poullaouen and Huelgo’t weren’t worked until 1729 (234). They can be found by “vicarious prospecting”, but it is interesting to examine the effect of one’s research strategy. If you started with the EB11 article on lead, you would find that pyromorphite is one of the minor lead ores. If the “minor” didn’t discourage you, the “pyromorphite” article would reveal that this mineral is often found in the upper levels of lead mines and that pyromorphite crystals were found at, inter alia, “Huelgoat [sic] in Finistere, Brittany”. The other likely route would be followed by someone checking out specific geographical regions of interest. Thus, someone from Briton might eventually read the entry for Finistere, and find “The lead mines of Poullaouen and Huelgoat, which for several centuries yielded a considerable quantity of silver, are no longer worked.”

New France

The secret treaty between England and France, signed as a side agreement to the Treaty of Ostend, transferred the British possessions in North America to France, and Richelieu expected to take the Dutch ones by force. Eric’s Ukase on the New World says that France will take control of the eastern seaboard of North America, from Newfoundland to the somewhat fluid border with Spanish Florida.

The French will first be assuming control of the former English colonies (Massachusetts and Virginia). Virginia has titanium, zinc, coal, and lead. Expansion into Maryland, on the other side of Chesapeake Bay, would be natural, and indeed is predicted by canon. In Mackey, “Essen Chronicles 3: A Trip to Paris” ( Grantville Gazette 9), negotiations with Richelieu give De Geer access to the chromite of Maryland, which was worked OTL 1827-1867 (Spurr 120).

The French will soon attempt the conquest of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (Manhattan Island and the Albany River). In all probability, they will also occupy the English and Dutch trading posts on Delaware Bay and the Delaware River. That puts them in striking distance of the famous (OTL) zinc mines of Franklin and Sterling Hill, New Jersey, and some intrepid Frenchmen might anchor in Barnegat Bay and seek out the titanium deposits of the pine barrens. EB11 states that millerite (a nickel mineral) can be found at the Gap Mine in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and EB15 confirms that a “little” nickel was mined there commercially.

That said, the center of French power in the New World is, and for some time will remain, in Quebec. Hence, they may be expected to contest the Danish movement down from Hudson Bay (see “Up for Grabs”). Deposits of titanium (and a bit of iron) near Havre-St. Pierre (Newfoundland), and asbestos on the Gaspe Penninsula (south of Quebec City), are readily accessible by sea.

Looking next at the eastern United States, the French will of course be very keen on exploiting the zinc, talc, iron and asbestos of upstate New York, as it too will be accessible from the St. Lawrence Seaway.

After that, it gets trickier. In their shoes, I would probably be concerned about securing a supply of oil. The best bet would probably be to push down Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, to modern Erie, Pennsylvania. You are then within striking distance of Titusville, Oil City and other early hotspots of the petroleum industry.

If the French westward expansion were not checked by some other power, I imagine that eventually they would cross the remaining Great Lakes and exploit the iron and copper of upper Michigan and northern Minnesota. In 1634, Jean Nicolet explored the north shore of Lake Michigan, entering Green Bay. Hence, the French can certainly reach the copper and iron deposits of the “Upper Peninsula” of Michigan right now, if they wish. Indeed, in OTL they reached northern Minnesota as early as 1679 (Franck 432). The problem is that it might not be economical to export iron and copper to Europe, at least until railroads and steamships are available. Taking control of the Lake Superior iron would be of great long-term advantage; in 1920 its reserves were estimated at 3.5 billion tons. (Spurr 61).

For other areas of possible French expansion in North America, see the “Up for Grabs” section below.


No European power has a mineral might which comes even close to that of Spain, which draws on both the Old World and the New.

The Iberian peninsula has been famous for its mineral resources since antiquity. HCWA shows deposits of tungsten, mercury, copper, silver, coal, lignite, potash, salt, lead pyrites, antimony, tin, zinc, uranium, and oil; the Portuguese tungsten and Spanish copper, mercury and iron deposits are deemed “major.” Some iron deposits are low in phosphorus (Gregory 255), which is advantageous. The province of Ciudad Real is best known for the production of mercury (at Almaden), but it is also a source of argentiferous copper and manganese. There is silver and argentiferous lead at Almerla. Copper is produced at Tharsis and Rio Tinto in Huelva province. (EB11/Spain.) Curiously, the Rio Tinto mines were abandoned when the Roman Empire fell, rediscovered in 1556. amd reopened in 1724.

The Achilles Heel of the Spanish mining industry is transportation. Even in 1911, mining was “retarded by the want of good roads.”

Outside Iberia

In identifying mineral localities in Spain’s non-Iberian possessions, I have relied solely on HCWA, but I am sure that additional useful information could be gleaned from EB11.

In the Mediterranean, Spain also controls the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples (the southern half of Italy). Sardinia has lead and zinc, and Sicily, sulfur. There is bauxite (aluminum ore) on the Adriatic spur northeast of Foggia. (HCWA).

The New World possessions are even more extensive. The Viceroyalty of New Spain includes the Audiencia of Mexico (1529) and Nueva Galicia (1549), which together comprise most of modern Mexico and parts of the western United States. There is also the Audiencia of Santo Domingo (1511), which embraces Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, additional Caribbean islands, and Venezuela. Finally, there is the Audiencia of Guatemala (1544), which administers southern Yucatan, and modern Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. (Bakewell).

With regard to Mexico, please note that in 1600, it essentially did not include the modern provinces of Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California. (AWH 78). However, there was some silver mining in Santa Barbara since 1567, and on the eve of the RoF, nearby Parral became the Silver Capital of the World. Both these towns lie just in extreme southern Chihuahua. It can be expected that given the promise of the HCWA map, that the Spanish will push up quickly to the modern city of Chihuahua (OTL 1709).

There is molybdenum in the Sonora, which the Spanish could certainly control if they exerted themselves, and one Sonoran source is shown by HCWA to lie just south of Nogales (with nearby tungsten and copper as a bonus).

Just in Mexico proper, there many deposits of lead, zinc, silver, gold and mercury. The gold and silver finds, with OTL years of major discoveries, are in the provinces of Guerrero (1522), Hidalgo (1524, 1762), Zacatecas (1540, 1555, 1824), Guanajuato (1548), Chihuahua (1632, 1666, 1704, 1810, 1824, 1889, 1897), San Luis Potosi (1778), Durango (1783), Coahuila (1878), and Guanajuato (1890). (Sellerier 85). Note that there is much to be dug up right in Mexico, where there is a large Indian labor force, without venturing further afield.

A review of the EB11 articles on the individual provinces will be most interesting. For example, the article on Durango mentions the Cerro del Mercado, a hill composed of remarkably pure iron ore, to the tune of 300,000,000 tons, and only two miles from the city. The main difficulty is that many of the mining towns identified aren’t on the atlas’ maps, but the Spanish can certainly find Mapimi, which is identified as one of the principal Durango mining districts.

On the coast, from Tampico to Frontera, there are at least five oil reservoirs marked by HCWA.

Central America has additional gold and silver to offer. The precious metals of the mines near Leon, Nicaragua were mentioned in Cooper, “Stretching Out 4: Beyond the Line” ( Grantville Gazette 16). There’s more of the same near Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and silver, lead and zinc west of Lake de Yojoa, also in Honduras. And there’s copper in Panama, north of Tole.

The Viceroyalty of Peru included the Audiencia of Charcas (1559), which is roughly equivalent to modern Argentina (except west central), Paraguay, Bolivia, and parts of Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. Then there is the Audiencia of Chile (1565, revised 1609), which is central Chile and west central Argentina. The Audiencia of Lima (1542) is essentially modern Peru, and that of Quito (1563) is Ecuador and western Brazil. The Audiencia of Santa Fe (1549) governs Columbia, and finally there is the Audiencia of Panama (1538, revised 1567). (Bakewell).

Modern Peru enjoys a tremendous concentration of mineral wealth, including copper, silver, gold, zinc, lead, molybdenum, mercury, iron, vanadium, and tungsten near Lima, and a similar concentration near Chimbote. (HCWA). That vanadium site, the world leader, is apparently near Cerro de Pasco (the actual distance is 20 miles). It probably won’t be difficult to persuade anyone to explore in that area, given that it isn’t far from Lima, and had 342 silver mines in 1890 (EB11/Cerro de Pasco). Silver makes a great consolation prize.

Ecuador has a bit of gold. Southwestern Bolivia has copper, gold, silver, antimony, tungsten, tin, lead and sulfur. (It is perhaps worth noting that the great silver mines of Potosi “Peru”, discovered in 1545 (SME 10), are in modern Bolivia.) There’s iron, manganese, gold, silver, copper and molybdenum in central Chile, whereas northern Chile offers immense nitrate deposits, and some copper. Northwest Argentina has silver, copper, lead, zinc, beryl, tin and tungsten. Neither Paraguay nor Uraguay are noted for their mineral resources, and the same is true of western Brazil. In Columbia, there is gold, silver and platinum near Medellin, iron near Paz del Rio, and oilfields in the Magdalena river valley.

Venezuela has the world’s sixth (Wikipedia) largest oil field, on the coast of Lake Maracaibo, and there are surface indications of its presence. OTL production was mostly from lake platforms.

It is perhaps worth noting that the Spanish area of direct control in South America is primarily coastal, running from the mouth of the Orinoco in Venezuela, and then around the continent counter-clockwise to just north of the Isla de Chiloe in Chile. This belt varies from 200-500 miles in depth. The principal exception is in the south, where it joins with a secondary area of Spanish control, the valleys of the Rio Parana and Rio Paraguay up past Asuncion (1537 and Concepcion (1609), and the right bank of its tributary, the Salado del Norte. (AWH 82).

For convenience, I will discuss the Caribbean islands here, although they aren’t all held by Spain. Cuba has copper and gypsum in the west, and iron, manganese, copper, nickel, cobalt and chromium in the east. For transport cost reasons, it was once a major supplier of iron to eastern American smelters. (Gregory 255). Conveniently, its iron ore contains nickel and chromium (Spurr 135).

Jamaica has a world-class deposit of bauxite. Hispaniola offers more bauxite, as well as copper, nickel, gold, salt and gypsum. Finally, there is oil on Trinidad. (HCWA).

Finally, the Spanish control most of the Philippine Islands. They aren’t likely to be as interested as the USE would be in the chromium of Zambales province, but the gold and silver east of the Lingayen gulf, and the gold, lead and iron of Camarines Norte, and the gold, iron and nickel of northern Mindanao, will excite Spanish cupidity.

Portuguese Empire

Besides these direct holdings, there is also the peculiar relationship between Spain and Portugal. Philip II became king of Portugal in 1581. However, he agreed that all court and government posts in Portugal would continue to held by the Portuguese, and that the Portuguese would monopolize the trade with India and Africa.

Spain thus exercised a rather oblique control over the Portuguese empire, which included Portugal proper, coastal Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique, and trading posts scattered across the littoral of the Indian Ocean.

It is worth noting that the Portuguese have coastal forts in Oman, at the gateway to the Persian Gulf, and thus have access to major oil fields. This could be threatened by the Omani of the interior (who forced them out in OTL 1650), the Persians or Turks, or European competitors. (The Turks took Suhar in 1600 but were expelled by an Anglo-Persian task force in 1622.)

Within Brazil, there is the great mineral bonanza (gold, silver, manganese, tin, iron, mica, bauxite, diamonds) of Minas Gerais, which wasn’t discovered until OTL 1692 by adventurers traveling east from Sao Paulo (EB11/Minas Geraes). While close to Rio de Janeiro as the crow flies, the mining region is perhaps more accessible from the Rio Parana to the south or the Rio Sao Francisco to the north. Two small rivers, the Doce (comes near to Bela Horizonte) and the Jequitoinhonha (leads to Diamantina) might be followed into the mountains, although they are certainly not navigable. The tungsten, lithium and beryllium near Natal, outside the Dutch enclave at Recife, are also noteworthy.

Angola, north of the Congo (modern Gabon), can offer gold, iron and manganese. Mozambique has graphite, mica and chromium.


Austria corresponds roughly to modern Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia (Carniola), and part of Hungary (northeast of Lake Balaton, and then north of an imaginary line extending eastward from where the Danube turns south). This region includes deposits of tungsten, iron, magnesium, lead, zinc, antimony, aluminum, manganese, lignite, magnesium, copper and mercury.

The giant Matzen field, just 12 miles northeast of Vienna (HCWA), offers over 500 million barrels oil and 1.5 trillion cubic feet natural gas. (Golonka 207). There are additional fields elsewhere in the “Vienna Basin”. Some at least are vulnerable to raiding by Wallenstein, but there are more fields in the Zala province of Hungary. (HCWA).

Leisering identifies four locations in the region between Passau and Erzberg as active in iron mining in 1550. He also shows lead and silver mines in the vicinity of Villach and Judenberg, and the famous cinnabar (mercury) mines north of Trieste. Moving northeast, we can see that in the sixteenth century, there was gold, silver and copper mining near Neusohl (Banská Bystrica, Slovakia), and further east, copper and silver exploitation to the west of Kaschau (KoÅ¡ice, Slovakia).

The generic EB11/Austria article is not very specific as to the location of Austrian mines, but it does cite the aforementioned mercury mines of Idria in Carniola. There is graphite near Mihldorf (EB11/Lower Austria), There are extensive iron mines at Erzberg, and brown coal fields “near Leoben, near Voitsberg and Koflach, near Eibiswald and Wies, and round Trifail, Tiiffer and Hrastnig.” (EB11/Styria), Iron is found in the region of Saualpe, and lead at Bleiberg and Raibl.(EB11/Carinthia).

Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth

This corresponds to modern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, and the northwest Ukraine, with a few dribs and drabs of Russia. For the Polish-Russian border, see “Russia” below.

As a rough approximation, the Polish-Ottoman border runs along the Carpathians to 48ÌŠN, then, crossing the Ukraine, ENE to the Dniester River near Hotin (leaving Czernowice and Hotin on the Ottoman side), then down the Dniester to 48ÌŠN again (near Raszkow), then straight east to 36ÌŠE longitude and straight north from there. (This ignores two Polish salients, a narrow one near “Jahorlik” on the Dniester, and a wider one terminating on the Dnieper, thirty-something miles south of Zaporozh’ye.)(Poznaniak, Poole XLVIII).

The planned invasion of Saxony is expected to provoke Polish intervention, and that in turn a Swedish counterattack on Poland proper (TBW, Chap. 8), with Wallenstein trying to pick off Lesser Poland (Flint, “The Anaconda Project,” Grantville Gazette 12).

In Poland proper, the richest mineral concentration is around Krakow (coal, zinc, lead, salt) but there is lignite in the southwest and center, and oil fields in the southeast. Copper and nickel are available NW and SW respectively of Wroclaw; more iron near Lodz; and sulfur near Sandomierz. (HWCA). I suspect that the iron deposit symbol, which appears to be near Radom, should actually be over Kielce (cp. EB11/Russian Poland).

The copper and lead of Kielce and the tin of Olkusz were mined before the RoF (EB11; Phillips 406), and Leisering’s map shows 16c lead and silver workings NW and SE of Cracow, respectively. Phillips (406) says that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Poland produced more lead than any other European country. There is calamine (zinc ore) at Olkusz (northwest of Krakow), but it wasn’t discovered until the nineteenth century (Id.). HCWA shows zinc to the north, not northwest. In all probability, both are right.

In the Ukraine, there is oil, gas, potash, salt and sulfur in the salient pointing toward Hungary, graphite between Kiev and Odessa, and major iron and manganese deposits in the vicinity of modern Dnepropetrovsk. Dnepropetrovsk, settled in the 16c, is under tenuous Polish control, menaced by both the Ottomans and the Cossacks. The Poles built the fortress of Kodak there in OTL 1635 but, before it was adequately garrisoned, it was destroyed by the Cossacks. This does not bode well for early development of a mining industry

It seems appropriate to say a little about Bobrka, in southeast Poland (Galicia). Its oil springs were exploited by down-timers, and there were hand-dug wells by 1854, and drilling later. Total production was 1.2 million tons oil. (Golonka 281). There were other oil fields in Galicia, and in 1909 Galicia was the third-ranking world oil province. (Frank 4; Redwood 17ff). I suspect that in 1634 both Gustav Adolph and Wallenstein are thinking rather greedily about Galicia . . . .


There was some mining in Russia by the brothers Stroganov at Perm in the late sixteenth century (EB11/Ural Mountains), but “mining had not assumed an important position among the industries of Russia until about the year 1700 . . . ” (Phillips 398). Hence, all the deposits identified by up-time texts can probably be treated as “new”.

We first consider western Russia. In the far northwest, at the base of the Kola Peninsula, there are deposits of nickel, iron, mica and phosphates. Titanium could be mined northeast of Voronezh. There are quite a few iron, and some lignite, deposits in a 200 mile wide belt running 500+ miles from Nizhniy Novgorod to Kharkov (HWCA).

However, it is important to recognize that in 1634, the border between Russia and Poland is very different from where it lay in, say, 1960. Based on several atlases and online maps, western Russia in 1634 included Narva, Pskov, Velikiye Luki, Vyazma, Bryansk, Rylsk, Belgorod, and Kharkov (TCAWA 85; Poole XLIX). Unless a “butterfly flaps,” it doesn’t include Smolensk (per Treaty of Polyanovka, May 1634).

The border of Russia with the Ottomans is somewhat amorphous, as the Russian control over the various Cossacks and Kalmuks is a bit debatable. However, I would say that the Russians control Kharkov, Tcherkesk (near Rostov), Stavropol, Georgievsk, Moxdok, and Kislar. (Poole XLIX).

HWCA shows sources of mercury, iron and coal in the general vicinity of Donetsk, which is south of Belgorod, but the first settlement in the region was at Slavyansk/Solanoye (1676), to mine salt. In 1634, control of the Donetsk region is divided between the Russians and the Crimean Khanate, with roving Cossacks further complicating matters. The Poles aren’t far away, either. Not, perhaps, the best place for mining, at least until one power prevails.

Another area of possible Russian southern expansion is the Caucasus, whose mineral reserves are discussed under “Persia.”

Along the Volga River and its tributary the Kama, from Volgograd to Perm, there are oil and gas fields which are firmly in Russian territory. To their east, we find the Ural Mountains. This is the true treasure chest of Russia, where one can find nickel, iron, copper, manganese, chromium, magnesium, vanadium, gold, aluminum, asbestos, phosphates, coal, platinum and diamonds. In OTL, gold was discovered in the eastern Urals in 1745 and in the western Urals in 1803. (Kroupnik). In 1634, this is a fur trading region, with just a few Russian settlements, both west (Kazan, Vyatka/Kirov, and the salt mining center Solikamsk) and east (Verkhoturye, Pelym, Turinsk, Tyumen). Penetration of the region is aided by the Volga watershed on the west side and the Ural River on the east, both flowing down to the Caspian Sea.

In NTL 1634, Czar Mikhail decreed that a serf could buy himself out if “he is willing to move to Siberia and look for gold or other metals and resources that are now known to exist.” The newspaper carrying the text of the decree also had ads for treasure maps for gold, silver, copper and oil. (Huff and Goodlett, “Butterflies in the Kremlin, Part Seven, The Bureaucrats are Revolting,” Grantville Gazette 18).

There are important trade routes flanking the Urals, which can influence how economical it is to develop these deposits. First, there is the Novgorod-Nizhny Novogorod route, connecting the Baltic Sea to the Volga. In the vicinity of modern Volgograd, there was a short portage to the Don, leading down to the Black Sea. There is also the steppe route, from Rostov on the Don, to New Sarai on the Volga, and then east across the Kirghiz Steppe to Karakorum and ultimately, China. Or from New Sarai one can go to Old Sarai on the Caspian Sea, and thence to Urgenj, Bukhara, Samarkand and Ferghana. And Bukhara is close to Merv on the Silk Road. (Franck 94).

Russian traders and explorers have pushed considerably further east than the Urals; the limit of Russian settlement in 1634 is roughly the river Lena south to Yakutsk (1632), and then to Bratsk (1630), Kuznetsk (1618), Tara (1594), and Tyumen (1586). There are plenty of mineral sources in this vast region, too many to enumerate. Given the richness of the Urals, there is probably not much reason to engage in mining in this region, unless, perhaps, for gold. Between the Lena and the Pacific Ocean, there are additional deposits, but nothing extraordinary.

The development of the Urals minerals and the Volga basin oil will give Russia an excellent strategic position. However, Russia may need to import lead and zinc. Twentieth century production came from Russian Poland, eastern Siberia, the Altai Mountains, and the Caucasus (Spurr 304) —none of which are included in seventeenth century Russia. And it certainly will need to import tin.

Selected Minor European Powers


With the Baltic War brought to a successful conclusion, Gustav Adolph intends “to punish the electors of Brandenburg and Saxony for their treacherous behavior by expropriating their territories outright. ” (TBW, Chap. 8).

EB11/Saxony says that the country is “divided into four mining districts: Freiberg, where silver and lead are the chief products; Altenberg, where tin is mainly raised; Schneeberg, yielding cobalt, nickel and ironstone; and Johanngeorgenstadt, with ironstone and silver mines.” There are also coal fields near Zwickau and Dresden.

Freiberg and Zwickau are essentially on the Saxon side of the Erzegebirge (see Bohemia, supra). Silver and tin were both mined there in the 16th century (Leisering).

Canon refers to the dumping of nickel ore by miners in Annaberg (Offord, “Dr. Phil’s Family,” Grantville Gazette 10); that is in the Saxon Erzegebirge.


This is the border region between Wallenstein’s new kingdom and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was invaded by the Austrians in 1629 and by the Swedes and Saxons in 1632. In Flint, “The Wallenstein Gambit” (ROF), Stearns predicts that Wallenstein will “try to take Silesia, for a certainty—he was already the ruler of Sagan, one of the Silesian principalities—and probably other parts of Poland and the Ukraine.”

In 1550, gold was worked in the area midway between Gorlitz and Breslau (Wroclaw), and gold and silver in the Sudeten range, the Silesian-Moravian border. (Leisering).

EB11/Silesia comments: “The coal measures of Upper Silesia, in the south-east part of the province, are among the most extensive in continental Europe, and there is another large field near Waldenburg in the south-west. The output in 1905 exceeded 34 million tons . . . equal to more than a quarter of the entire yield of Germany. The district of Oppeln also contains a great quantity of iron, the production in 1905 amounting to 862,000 tons. The deposits of zinc in the vicinity of Beuthen are perhaps the richest in the world, and produce two thirds of the zinc ore of Germany (609,000 tons). The remaining mineral products include lead, from which a considerable quantity of silver is extracted, copper, cobalt, arsenic, the rarer metal cadmium . . . ”

There are also small deposits of nickel (Spurr 135) and low-grade deposits of chromium (126).

Venetian Republic

Like the Dutch, the Venetians rely more on trade than on mining. There is coal and zinc in the foothills of the Alps, and perhaps some access to bauxite in their tenuous holdings on the Adriatic coast.


This small principality owes much of its prosperity to its salt deposits, but gold and silver was collected in the sixteenth century in the mountain area south of the upper Salzach (Leisering).


Tuscany holds the island of Elba and the aptly-named Metalliferous Hills. The principal minerals are iron, antimony, zinc, lead, and mercury, with a dab of silver.


Bavaria in 1634 is essentially that part of the modern state of Bavaria which lies south of the Danube and east of the Lech. HCWA only pinpoints a natural gas reservoir in Bavaria, but there is certainly at least coal and salt there (EB11/Bavaria). Leisering identifies a down-time silver mine east of Schwaz, and a modern website declares it “the biggest silver mine of the Middle Ages.” (Silbergwerk).

Bernard’s Sandbox and the Swiss Confederation

The potash north of Mulhouse is under the control of Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, although he is otherwise not well provided for with mineral resources. The Swiss Confederation is even worse off.


Ottoman Empire

In the early seventeenth century, the Ottoman empire ruled modern Turkey, Syria, most of Iraq (but see “Persia”), the southern Persian Gulf coast as far as Bahrain, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, and most of Hungary and Serbia, and had significant influence (and sometimes nominal sovereignty) in Romania, Moldavia, northern Africa, Qatar, the Crimea, and the Caucasus. (AWH 231, RMAWH 42).

The most important mineral resource under Ottoman control is, as surely you guessed, the oil of the Near East. However, there are iron, copper and chromium deposits in Turkey; lignite, asbestos, lead, nickel, chromium and aluminum in Greece; iron, copper, lead, zinc, coal, lignite and uranium in Bulgaria; silver, chromium, lead, zinc, and antimony in Serbia. (HCWA)

As for the border regions, there is oil in Romania and Libya; and there are many different minerals in the Caucasus (see discussion of Persia) and the Atlas Mountains (phosphates, cobalt iron, lead, zinc, manganese, copper).

Of course, until the Ottomans start taking advantage of up-time knowledge (their shoot-up-timers-on-sight policy suggests this isn’t happening anytime soon), they don’t have much incentive to drill for oil or mine the “new” metals. And Ottoman politics being what it is, it isn’t likely that any foreigners will receive “concessions” permitting them to do prospecting in Ottoman territory.

The Ottoman Empire does serve as an important way point in the movement of Asian goods to Europe. Those include, for example, zinc from Japan. However, I am not expecting any new activity in the imperial lands until they are forced to do so by military expediency. The Austrians, of course, will be modernizing their army to fend off the USE and Sweden, and ultimately that will give them an advantage in their perennial struggle with the Turks. Once the Turks get their noses sufficiently bloodied by the Habsburgs, they may reconsider their bar on up-time contact. That could happen by 1637 or 1638, but I wouldn’t count on it occurring any earlier.

Persian Empire

TCAWH 48 (red line) purports to give the borders of the Safavid state as of the death of the energetic Shah Abbas I in 1629. However, it indicates that Baghdad is in Ottoman hands. In fact, Abbas I captured it in 1624, and despite several attempts, the Ottomans didn’t retake Baghdad until 1638. (Wikipedia)

The most famous trade route is the Silk Road, from Baghdad to Rayy (near Tehran), Merv (Turkmenistan), and ultimately China. Secondary routes include Rayy-Isfahan-Ormuz and Ormuz-Kabul. (Franck 94). Mineral resources near these routes will probably be developed more rapidly than others.

Persia, and the area of modern Iraq which it controls, has little in the way of HCWA-identified mineral resources other than oil and gas. But there’s a lot of oil. There is coal north of Tehran, and copper in central Persia. EB11/Persia says “Deposits of rich ores of copper, lead, iron, manganese, zinc, nickel, cobalt, &c., abound . . . .” But transportation will be a problem.

The Caucasus mineral province comprises modern Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Caucasian Russia. Persia presently controls Azerbaijan, Tabriz having been retaken 1603 (Houtsma, E.J. Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, 609) and Baku in 1606. It’s worth noting that Baku has been producing oil since at the least the time of Marco Polo. I am not sure who controls Tbilisi in 1634, whether it be the Ottomans, the Persians, or one of the Georgian buffer states. The Caucasian region from the latitude of Russian Grozny (1818) to the modern Iranian border has tungsten, molybdenum, lead, manganese, zinc, oil, barium, copper, aluminum, and iron. All of which would be attractive to a Persian state seeking to modernize.

North of Persia, we have the Uzbek khanates of Kiva and Bukhara. The latter controls Tashkent, and within a radius of 200 miles of that city one can find mercury, antimony, copper, sulfur, oil, lignite, zinc and lead. The Uzbeks invaded northwestern Persia in 1587, and the Persians might decide to return the favor.

Mughal Empire

As of 1605, the Mughals more or less controlled India north of the line from Bombay to the confluence of the Godavari and Indravati, save for an interior chunk between the Indravati and the Chota Naghpur Plateau. And in that area they probably had considerable influence, even though it was dense jungle which their armies couldn’t easily march through (Gommans 30).

Unless it has been butterflied, in 1634 the Mughals are in the middle of a campaign which, in 1636, culminated in the conquest of the sultanate of Ahmednagar in the northwest corner of the Deccan Plateau. This display of muscle cowed the upper Deccan sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda into paying tribute to the Mughals, but they weren’t annexed until 1686-7. (32, 188). The little kingdoms further south remained independent. Hence, I will address the resources of the tip of India in the section “Up for Grabs.”

The Grand Trunk Road ran from Peshawar in Afghanistan, to Rawalpindi, Lahore, Amritsar, Delhi, Agra, Aligarh (Koil), Allahabad, Banares and eventually Dhaka. Another Mughal trade route curved southwest from Agra to Ajmer and Ahmeddabad, then dropped south to Surat and thence southeast to Gollarga, Hyderabad, Macchalipattnam, Madras, and Madurai. A third route ran from the Gollarga-Hyderabad region (Bihar) to Bijapur and Goa. (Franck 186; “Grand Trunk Road,” Wikipedia).

Referring first to the sites identified by HCWA, the most important Indian iron deposit is southwest of Jamshedpur, in Bihar and Orissa. These are at least partially under Mughal control, and the Mughals are likely to tighten that control once they become aware of the situation. Indeed, they may be inclined to push further into the Mahanadi and Indravati river valleys, to secure coal, manganese, bauxite, and additional iron sources.

The Mughals already control the mica, coal and bauxite of eastern India, in the general vicinity of Asansol. (India reputedly has the largest aluminum-rich bauxite deposits in the world; Peters 5.) There is lead and zinc to be exploited in the Aravalli Range. The only oil field noted by the HCWA is on the banks of the Indus, near modern Peshawar, Pakistan, but some gas fields are indicated in the central Indus valley.

The Mughals also control Qalat in Pakistan and Qandahar and Kabul in Afghanistan. A chromium deposit is shown to lie north of Quetta, in Pakistan near the Afghan border, which should be under Mughal control. The gold in northwest Afghanistan near Rostaq is in tribal hands . . . at least for now.

There is also much useful information in EB11/India. Coal and iron are found in every part of the country, and copper is almost as common. For gold, one must look to the Kolar fields in Mysore; for manganese, to a “tract on the Madras coast about midway between Calcutta and Madras”; for mica, to the Hazaribagh district of Nengal and to Madras. The manganese is of particular interest; it is in the district of Nagpur (EB11/Nagpur).

While the up-time works don’t refer to copper production in India, it predates the RoF. (Shrivastva).

Ming China

For the borders of Ming China circa 1600, see AWH 266 (or TCAWA 51, RMAWH 40-41). It doesn’t include modern Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang or Jilin provinces in the north, so that Beijing is both the capital and a frontier town.

China has immense mineral wealth. China is also about to be invaded by the Manchus so, if they are reading what the Grantville Barbarians have to say about mining opportunities, they are likely to also be reading about what OTL history had in store for them, and perhaps be a bit preoccupied. More likely, the Ming Imperium will just ignore it all. And I very much doubt that they will permit foreigners to set up mining operations on Chinese territory.

In any event, China has asbestos, silver, aluminum, gold, coal, copper, fluorspar, iron, gas, oil, gypsum, mercury, jade, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, salt, nickel, phosphates, lead, antimony, tin, talc, tungsten and zinc (HCWA). Note the notable absence of silver, which is why it was imported from Japan. In 2003, China was the world’s largest producer of antimony (Peters 6).

The Chinese use of coal as fuel was reported by Marco Polo, but it began 6,000 years ago. (Freese 203ff). The Chinese made coke, and used it in blast furnaces, beginning in the eleventh century. But in the nineteenth century, Chinese coal was more expensive in coastal cities than imported European coal, because China didn’t have steam engines and railroads. (211).


There is gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, iron, coal, oil, tungsten, pyrites, and manganese in Japan (HCWA). I know of over twenty deposits which were first discovered in OTL after 1631, but I have not systematically checked which of these are shown in HCWA or mentioned in a Grantville encyclopedia.

In my story “As the Cuckoo Flies” (scheduled, Ring of Fire III), information passed on by Dutch traders leads to the accelerated discovery of several ore deposits in Japan. For example, the Dutch told the Shogun’s advisors about the ColE entry for Shikoku: “A large copper mine is located at Besshi.” In OTL, it was found by a member of the Sumitomo family in 1690. The mine opened the next year and about 3.5 million pounds copper was produced in 1698. (IGSJ 174).

The Japanese also have now found the iron of Kamaishi. Not only was it shown on the HCWA map, there is also this entry in EB11: “Her largest known [iron ore] deposit (magnetite) occurs at Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture . . . .” In OTL, it was discovered in 1823 (IGSJ 180). While EB11 says that “the quantity of pig iron produced from the ore mined there does not exceed 37,000 tons annually,” that’s probably quite a good yield by 17c Japanese standards.


Korea has deposits of copper, zinc, graphite, tungsten, zinc, molybdenum, iron, coal, magnesium, gold, silver and lead (HCWA), but it is the most xenophobic of the Oriental states . . . which is saying a lot.


There are several mineral concentrations which are not within the immediate control of, or readily blockable by, any of the major powers.

Native Africa

The term “Gold Coast” refers to the coast of Ghana, and Europeans traded for gold beginning in the sixteenth century. The gold deposits are in the forest region, not on the coast itself. There also deposits of iron, manganese and diamond in this region, as well as of manganese near Abidjan.

EA notes that Nigeria in the 1980s ranked tenth as a producer of oil, and is a source of “sweet” (low sulfur) oil, but HCWA doesn’t pinpoint the fields so the only guidance to prospectors is EA’s statement that “the first wells began producing in the [Niger River] delta and the coastal regions of the east in the early 1960s.”

Further west, from roughly Dakar to Monrovia, there are deposits of titanium, bauxite, iron, diamond, and chromium.

These areas are readily accessible by sea, and could certainly be seized by any of the European powers. Holding them is another matter, especially given the European susceptibility to African diseases.

Central Africa poses a strategic puzzle. On the one hand, the Portuguese have the immediate advantage, as they have trading posts in Angola, and could go up the Congo and Lualaba, and thereby access the mineral concentrations of Lubumbashi-Ndola (copper, silver, cobalt, lead, zinc, manganese and platinum), and Rift Valley-Lake Victoria (iron, nickel, gold, tungsten, tin, beryllium, cobalt, copper, mica). (HCWA).

However, those areas could also be penetrated from the Indian Ocean, by adventurers ascending the Zambezi and Shire to Lake Tangyanika. It is worth noting that the Portuguese did try to push up the Zambesi, but were repelled by the natives (Franck 87).

There could even be infiltration from the north, by Muslems taking advantage of the Nile, although that’s the least likely development at this point.

The mineral riches of South Africa (asbestos, silver, aluminum, gold, coal, chromium, copper, diamonds, iron, graphite, lithium, mica, manganese, salt, nickel, phosphates, lead, platinum, antimony, tin, uranium, vanadium, tungsten, zinc—HCWA) are accessible from the coast, or from Orange and Limpopo Rivers, and their tributaries, to any European naval power.

Southern India

Bijapur (1635 borders) has bauxite, manganese and iron, and independent southern India has titanium, uranium, asbestos, chromium, gold, and mica (plus graphite in Ceylon)(HCWA; Schwartzberg). While the Mughals can certainly push south to try to control it, this area is accessible to all of the European powers with substantial navies. There are at least twenty European trading posts south of the Krishnavari. (AWH 247).

Southeast Asia

In OTL 1635, Thalun moved the capital of Burma from Pegu (sacked in 1599) to Ava (near Mandalay). Ascending the Irrawaddy River of Burma, one can find oil, tin (near Mandalay), and silver, and to the east there is lead, zinc, copper and tungsten (HCWA), and nickel (EB15). It is perhaps worth noting that this river is the southern end of the “Burma Road,” a medieval trade route into China. The route left the river at Bhamo and headed northeast toward Yunnan. (Franck 1).

The area north of Hanoi possesses tin, zinc, tungsten, iron, bauxite, antimony and coal. This area is controlled by the Trinh, who have been engaged in a civil war with the Nguyen to the south since 1627.

Ayutthaya (Thailand) has iron, lead, antimony, coal and manganese (HCWA). The iron is north of the capital (itself 50 miles north of modern Bangkok) and the other resources lie much further north. Some of them may actually be under Burmese control.

The Malay peninsula has tin, titanium, antimony, lead, tungsten and gold. EB11 reports that the tin is alluvial (you can pan the gravel for it, rather than having to do hard rock mining). There is oil on the island of Sumatra; tin on the small islands of Lingga, Bangka and Billiton; iron and manganese on Java; oil and copper in northern Borneo; nickel on Celebes, and oil, copper and gold for the masochistic in the mountain jungles of New Guinea.(HCWA).


There are Spanish and Dutch forts on Taiwan, and of course the island is also accessible from China and Japan. Taiwan has deposits of coal, oil, natural gas and copper. (HCWA).

Australia and Environs

Australia has great mineral wealth, but the concentrations near the coast are those in the vicinity of Whyalla (iron, silver, gold), Melbourne (gold), and Sydney (iron, copper, lead, zinc). (HCWA). There is molybdenite in New South Wales.

New Zealand has coal. In New Caledonia, to the east of Australia, “the main mineral deposits are the nickel ores, occurring as veins of garnierite, associated with peridotite dikes, in the ancient rocks of the eastern slope of the island . . . . Gold is found in the valley of the Diahot, as well as lead and copper at Balade. Iron is found everywhere . . . . Coal has been worked near Noumea.” It also produces chromium and cobalt, but the locations of those deposits are not mentioned. (EB11/New Caledonia).


Northern South America (from the mouth of the Orinoco to that of the Amazon) was a “free trade” zone (the “Wild Coast”), in which a few small groups of Dutch, English, and French lived in relative harmony with the Spanish, Portuguese and each other. I have already alluded to the new bauxite-rubber colony at Paramaribo. Sooner or later, someone will discover the gold which has been rumored to be present in the Guyanas since the days of Walter Raleigh. Or they will find the diamonds. Both are shown by HCWA, and discussed by EB11. Once the actual discovery is made, I suspect that there will be something of a free-for-all.

The Guiana Highlands have iron, manganese, bauxide, gold, cassiterite (tin ore) and more (Waszkis 62), but even today little is known about its geology because of the difficulties of jungle prospecting.

Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard

Spain claims Florida and, in the seventeenth century, the term “Florida” means essentially the entire Gulf Coast of the United States. The most important mineral resource of this region is, of course, “black gold” (petroleum) and it is found near the coast of Texas and Louisiana. EB11/Louisiana directs would-be oil tycoons to Jennings, Walsh, Anse la Butte, Caddo and Vinton, and EB11/Texas to Corsicana and Beaumont. Numerous additional fields are shown by HCWA, and there also seems to be exploitable sulfur.

There is also some oil in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and inland Texas, which might be reached by tributaries of the Mississippi, although there isn’t much point in going there until the coastal sources are fully developed. Unless, of course, you’re in dire need of helium. If you want helium, the best source is natural gas from certain gas fields, and diligent encyclopedia readers will probably figure out that Amarillo, Texas would be a good place to start looking. Access would be via the Red River.

The Hugoton gas field (SW Kansas) is also a good source of helium, but while the gas is mentioned by EA/Kansas, the helium isn’t. Hugoton could be reached by following the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers.

One other resource worthy of note is the bauxite southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, and accessible via the Arkansas River.

Founding a coal-and-iron mining colony at Birmingham, Alabama is another possibility. It would be reached from Mobile by one of two routes, up the Alabama and Cahaba rivers, or up the Mobile, Tmbigbee and Black Warrior rivers. In 1920, the iron ore reserves were estimated at 355 million tons (Spurr 61).

While it is not shown on the HCWA economic map, it’s likely that data mining of encyclopedias (EA “Georgia”) will eventually reveal the Dahlonega (Cherokee, “yellow money”), gold rush (note the nearby town of Auraria). This is where the phrase, “thar’s gold in them thar hills!” came from. When that gold runs out, there are some consolation prizes to the west: mica, bauxite, iron and manganese. There are two different routes to Dahlonega: from the Gulf Coast, up the Chattahoochee, and from the Atlantic, up the Savannah. This could easily lead to a Spanish-French collision. (There’s gold in the northern Carolinas, too. The HCWA shows gold southeast of High Rock Lake, North Carolina, and, voila, there’s a town called “Gold Hill” . . . .)

Naturally, one of the other European powers could try to reach these mining regions first, at the risk of conflict with Spain. In OTL, the French planted colonies in Fort St. Louis (near Inez, Texas) (1685-89), Fort Maureapas (near Biloxi, Mississippi)(1699), Mobile, Alabama (1702), and New Orleans (1718). (Curiously, Detroit is older than New Orleans.)

New Orleans, of course, is of tremendous strategic importance as the gateway to the Mississippi River, and I would be very surprised if it didn’t become a bone of contention. New Orleans was founded on the first “high ground” (think 20 feet tops) on the lower Mississippi. Perhaps a better location for a fort would be at Baton Rouge, Louisiana (30 feet) or Natchez, Mississippi (217 feet), both of which are sited on bluffs overlooking the river.

In the Appalachians, there are numerous coal fields in a belt running from north central Tennessee to southwestern Pennsylvania. The up-timers will have very detailed information about this region, not only from up-time state-by-state maps, but also considerable personal knowledge.

It is not economically practical to transport coal more than ten miles or so by road (and of course, as of 1634 there aren’t any roads in the region), and hence these coal fields are of purely local interest until there are railroads to link them to the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River or its navigable tributaries (notably the Ohio River), or the eastern seaboard. Building railroads in turn presupposes achieving some measure of military control over the region, which will certainly be contested by the Indian tribes.

Similar objections apply to any early development of the oil fields of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Offhand, I don’t think Appalachia will come into play until the 1640s at the earliest.

Mississippi River Basin

Besides serving as an avenue to the Appalachian coal fields, the Mississippi river basin also affords access to the lead and zinc deposits of the central Mississippi valley (notably lead in Joplin, Missouri). The valley was once considered the greatest world concentration of those metals. (Bateman 531). Continuing the ascent, we reach the iron of northern Minnesota., Once there, it is relatively easy to reach the iron and copper of northern Michigan, by way of Lake Superior.

Of course, these areas can be traversed in reverse by explorers coming westward across the Great Lakes. There are many possible portages (Franck 352).

Rocky Mountains

There is no easy waterway access to the great mineral wealth of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. The Spanish might come up the Rio Grande valley—one cluster of sites is west of the river between El Paso and Socorro, and another north of the headwaters. Others could reach Colorado by going up the Mississippi and then following the Arkansas River, or the Missouri and Kansas rivers, westward. Nonetheless, these remote areas are going to be irrelevant until the 1650s at the earliest. The same is true of the mineral concentrations in Alberta, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

There is some chance of penetration of Saskatchewan and Manitoba from Hudson Bay, via the Churchill, Nelson and Saskatchewan rivers. Captain Thomas Button wintered near the mouth of the Nelson in 1612, but the first significant European exploration of the region was by Henry Kelsey in the 1690s.

California is considerably more attractive. There is the concentration of copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold near the aptly named Eureka; the gold and other metals of the Sacramento River valley, and oil fields in the vicinity of Los Angeles. Those willing to persevere can reach additional oil fields in the upper San Joaquin valley, and the real diehards (sometimes literally) can find the mineral wealth of the Sierra Nevada and Mohave Desert.

The Manila Galleons sail down the coast of California on their way to Veracruz, Mexico, but as of RoF (1631) there had been no significant exploration. The Spanish will no doubt become aware, from up-time atlases, of the general locations of both oil and gold in California, but I have my doubts that they will make any early attempts to exploit them, given the revelations as to riches close at hand in Mexico, and for that matter in southern Arizona and New Mexico. Spain may appear to have the easiest access to California, but ships venturing north from Acapulco will be fighting the wind and current the entire way. Of course, the Spanish aren’t likely to be keen on letting any other power take control of the California gold fields.

Like California, Alaska and British Columbia have mineral deposits located near the coast, but I don’t see a need to get into the details.

There isn’t much interesting from a mineralogical standpoint in coastal Washington or Oregon, but those are sterling agricultural areas, and the Columbia River, which divides the two states, is the best avenue to reach the mineral concentrations of northwestern Washington and southeastern British Columbia.

Northern North America

The area between Georgian Bay and Hudson Bay (especially that straddling the modern Ontario-Quebec border) is a real jackpot. This has nickel, copper, cobalt, platinum, silver, zinc and gold. (HCWA). There are low grade molybdenite deposits in Aldfield, Pontiac county (EB11/molybdenite). The world’s largest titanium deposit as of 1950 was at Allard Lake, Quebec. (Bateman). Also, early 20c nickel production was dominated by Sudbury, Ontario. However, in OTL, new processes of refining had to be developed to cope with the high copper content of these nickel ores (Spurr 130).

The Danes are planning to reach this region by journeying south from Hudson Bay. However, the season for safe navigation of the Hudson Bay was only from July 15 to October 1 in the (warmer) early twentieth century and the mouth of the Moose River is on James Bay, which is so shallow as to be unfit for shipping, save for a central channel leading to the mouth of the Moose. (EB11, “Hudson Bay”). So there are some logistical constraints on this enterprise. Presumably, the company prospectors will head south from Hudson Bay, taking advantage of the Moose and Abitibbi rivers, which are navigable by canoe (Hodgins 29ff). They are clear of ice April/May-October/November (Ogilvie 132).

The French have several options for contesting control of the region. Boats can pass up the St. Lawrence Seaway and then up the Ottawa River, portaging falls and rapids as needed. The Ottawa was explored by Samuel de Champlain in 1613.At Mattawa, the French will have a choice. They can continue upriver to Cobalt, or turn west, portaging to North Bay on Lake Nippising, and then descend the French River to Georgian Bay. The latter was the route taken by Samuel de Champlain in 1615. (Franck 356). Near the mouth of the French, they can ascend the Wanapitei River to modern Sudbury and Nickel Centre.

The mining region is also accessible by taking the long way through Lake Ontario, the Niagara River (portage around the falls), Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. There is evidence that Etienne Brule traversed Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Superior in 1615-1620. Or one can go overland across the isthmus between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. Champlain took this path in reverse when he accompanied a Huron war party in its attack on an Onondega settlement.

Yet another option open to the French (once they conquer the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam) is to ascend the Albany and Mohawk rivers, then cut west to Lake Ontario (and, if they wish, take the “Mohawk Trail” to Lake Erie). (Schank 242).

Gazing into my crystal ball, this is what I see . . . The French will probably have occasional explorers and trappers in the region between the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay in 1634 on. They could run into the Hudson Bay Colony (HBC)’s own explorers and trappers, or they could see signs of each other’s presence, e.g., goods in an Indian village, a shovel mark, etc.

The French will not have any military force to spare to either establish a mining settlement of their own in that region, or to attack the Danish settlement before 1636. I believe that in 1634-35, all available forces will be needed to 1) garrison the major former English settlements, 2) conquer the Dutch settlements, and 3) protect the French settlers, old and new, from hostile Indians. Once the local French learn of the presence of the HBC, they might try to incite Indians against them rather than use their own troops. This was a common tactic (viz. 18c French and Indian Wars).Or they may take bribes to look the other way.

In the event of conflict, the French have somewhat superior logistics—their waterways are more ice-free and they will probably have more populous settlements close by. However, there is a watershed divide between rivers running into Hudson Bay and those running into the Great Lakes. So there is a natural division of the territory running between Cochrane and Sudbury, or more particularly between Iroquois Falls and Matachewan/Kirkland Lake.

Mineral-by-mineral Recap

While the politicians want to know about all the minerals in their country or within easy reach, industrialists like De Geer may be willing to send an expedition to the “best” deposit of the mineral of interest, wherever it may be. What seems “best” at the time will depend on the level of vicarious prospecting, available transportation networks, and, alas, politics. A further problem is that the encyclopedias only sporadically comment on the richness of the deposits. So a site may be inferred to be large simply because it is mentioned in multiple references. You usually need a “Level III” reference if you want quantitative information.

Oil. The oil fields which can be developed by anyone are those of the Gulf Coast, parts of the Arabian Peninsula, and perhaps California and Nigeria. Access to the fields of Mexico, Venezuela, the Middle East, Galicia and Russia is likely to be restricted on the basis of nationality. See Cooper, “Drillers in Doublets” ( Grantville Gazette 4).

Natural Gas. This is awkward to transport other than by pipeline.

Coal, Iron, Copper. In general, these are widely enough distributed that it doesn’t pay to transport them long distances. It is perhaps worth noting that the Asian powers, other than Japan, are relatively underprivileged when it comes to copper.

Gold and Silver. European governments are going to learn, within a span of a few months, of the locations of several centuries worth of major gold and silver strikes. It is reasonable to expect Spain to exploit the deposits within or close to its existing New World colonies first. The Portuguese will probably go after Minas Geraes (Brazil), and the French, the Appalachian gold belt. The French will clearly be wrestling with the Danes for control of Ontario gold. The Russians have several options. For independents, the regions of greatest immediate interest are probably South Africa and Australia.

Platinum. Even a casual search reveals the locations of the world-class deposits in Ontario, Russia, and South Africa. Note that Sudbury didn’t become important as a platinum source until the Frood mine was opened (Bateman 477).

Mercury. Dominated by Spain (Almaden), Austria (Idria), and Tuscany (Monte Amiata), pre-RoF. HCWA reveals additional deposits in California, Mexico, Peru, China, Kyrgyzstan, Urkaine, and Russia (Altai), but these are dwarfed by the established sources.

Lead and Zinc. There are many small deposits in Europe. Still, before the RoF, both lead (from Bolivia and Peru) and zinc (from India and China) was imported. The greatest lead-zinc concentration known in 1950 was in the central Mississippi valley (Bateman 531), and it should be faster to ship lead and zinc from there than from the Orient. Researchers may be puzzled that Joplin is listed as a source by EB11 but not by HCWA; it was depleted by the late 20c. The principal alternative to America is Australia, and the place to look is shown by HCWA.

Aluminum. See Cooper, “Aluminum: Will o’ the Wisp?” ( Grantville Gazette 8).

Manganese. Casual EB11 searching reveals some German and Bohemian deposits; they are small, but adequate in the short term. The world-class deposits of Ukraine, the Caucasus, South Africa, Australia, India, and China are mapped by HCWA, and Level II (computerized) searching will confirm the importance of Chiatura and Imerita (Georgia), Nikopol (Ukraine), Karnataka (India), etc. (ColE).

Nickel. There has been much argument on the Bar about who will go where to find nickel. 1990EB15 says that the first major source of nickel was in Norway, and that this was superseded by New Caledonia in 1871, in turn yielding primacy to Sudbury, Ontario in 1905. It also mentions that in the USSR, most production came from Norilsk and Pechenga. 1977EB15 reports that the top producers in 1969 were Canada, USSR, New Caledonia, Cuba and USA.

Norway’s advantage for USE companies is proximity, but there is little information on where to look. EB11/Norway points to Semjen, an island above the Arctic Circle. It will be discovered that the vein is 24-40 feet wide; after rough sorting, the ore averages 1-1.5% nickel, and the mine also produces cobalt and copper. (SMQ, Garland). It produced 3828 tons ore in 1879 (Phillips 389). An exhausive search of EB11 might turn up the reference to nickel mining at Drammen (EB11/Drammen).The nickel is actually at Ringerike, 58 kilometers away. (OLA). ColE mentions nickel and iron mining somewhere in Aust-Agder (Nedenes) county (3610 square miles). (The iron mines are those near Arendal.) Within Aust-Agder is Evje, the richest nickel deposit in Norway. The ore body underlies about 75 square kilometers, and 1872-1908 production was 75,000 tons ore (1350 tons nickel, 800 copper). (Beyschlag 297). 1844-1946, 3.2 million tons ore (14500 tons copper, 20200 nickel)(evjeweb).

Two locations in Finland are mapped (HCWA, EB15). Neither is the principal Finnish source. (GTK).

Next closest is the Pechenga (Petsamo) district on the Kola Peninsula, now part of the Soviet Union, with two nearby locations shown by the EB15 Europe map. Pechenga is an ice-free port on the Barent’s Sea. The district is settled by the Russians and the native Sami, and trades with the Dutch and Scandinavians. The deposit was discovered in 1912; it is now 1.2% nickel; annual production (1989) is 35,000 tons metal. (Foster).

The Norilsk deposit is much larger; annual production is 210,000 tons metal. Its nickel-copper was discovered in the Bronze Age (!) and local craftsman apparently used it (Foster). (The ninth century Chinese had a similar nickel-copper alloy they called pai-thung, “white copper”, Howard-White 13). Norilsk proved rather difficult to develop because of the Arctic environment. The ore was moved by rail to the Yenisey or Pyasina rivers. (Jensen 540).

There are also smaller nickel deposits in the Urals, near Orsk and Yekaterinburg (HCWA map), discovered in the nineteenth century, which, like other European deposits, became uneconomical after New Caledonia flooded the market (Jensen).

The Spanish have ready access to Cuba’s nickel reserves, which are in Holguin province and are “among the largest in the world” (Encarta; HCWA).

WBE calls Sudbury the “Nickel Capital of the World.” The nickel deposits in Canada are reportedly covered with clay and give no surface clues, so you need geophysical methods (or luck) to find them. The Sudbury deposit was found as a result of a railroad rail cut. The ore at Sudbury is 2% nickel (EB15) and combined with copper. In OTL, this initially made it difficult to recover either metal. However, EB15 outlines two methods of separation, which means that one can produce both metals for subsequent sale. In 1950, after over half-century of mining, the annual production level was 130,000 tons apiece of copper and nickel metal, plus platinum, gold, and silver. (Bateman 588).

If the French block the new Hudson Bay Company from Sudbury, HBC can instead mine nickel at Thompson, Manitoba (discovered 1956; ColE).

New Caledonia is far away, but Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia credits it with 25% of the world’s nickel reserves. Total production 1875-1981 was110 million tons ore, 2.5 million tons metal. Explorers would find that it has many deposits near the coast, some of which were very high grade (up to 15%) and can be “cherry-picked” (Bird). EB15 mentions that at “Le Nickel”, the ore mined in 1900 was 9% nickel. Production that year was 6000 tons metal (Spurr, 136). New Caledonia is most likely to be of interest to Dutch, Portuguese, English and French entrepreneurs.

Information on Australian nickel is limited but there are pointers to Kalgoorlie (HCWA, EB15 maps, ColE).

Chromium. The obvious place to look for chromite is in Maryland, and indeed the Bare Hills (EB11) were the center of the industry in 1860. However, the torch quickly passed to Turkey, Russia, New Caledonia and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)(Bateman 592), and the location of deposits is clearly shown by HCWA. For independents, New Caledonia and Rhodesia are clearly the best bets.

Molybdenum. HCWA identifies sites in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Norway, Quebec, China, Korea, Russia, Canada, and USA, and EB11 names specific towns in Britain, Norway, Australia and Quebec. OTL molybdenum production was famously dominated by Climax, Colorado (ColE), but that is a rather remote site and it will be some years before it can be put into operation.

Tungsten. This has a distribution pattern similar to that of tin. EB11 identifies some small European localities, but the world-class deposits are in Australia, China, Korea, Japan and southeast Asia (see HCWA).

Cobalt. EB11 directs to towns in Sweden, Norway, India, Germany and England; HCWA shows Russia, south and central Africa, Cuba, Canada. At Skutterud, Norway (EB11/Cobaltite), 8000 tons ore (0.1%) was produced in 1882 (Lock 411, OLA12).

EA hints that it is worth checking out Canada and the Congo. It doesn’t take much to guess that a town called “Cobalt, Ontario” (marked “Co” by HCWA) might be of interest; the veins are actually cobalt-silver arsenide (Bateman 606). The Congolese deposits are in Katanga province, more particularly Kolwezi and Likasi; Katanga is said to supply “most of the world’s cobalt” (ColE). The location of the Cuban and Russian deposits is shown (HCWA), but I am not sure there is any clue that they are major (USGS). Other major deposits which are at least vaguely mentioned by the encyclopedias are those of New Caledonia (Columbia) and Australia (modern EB).

Vanadium. A casual search will reveal sites in Europe (Finland, Austria, England) and elsewhere The greatest deposit known (“rich”—EB15) in 1950 was the one at Minasragra, Peru (Bateman 604) and it appears on an HCWA map. EB also says that the largest mines are in South Africa, the Urals, and Szechuan China. HCWA indicates the location of the African and Russian sites, but not the Chinese. South Africa is probably the best hunting ground for freelancers.

Titanium. European (Norway, France, England, Bohemia, Sweden, Russian) sources are specified by EB11. For Norway, EB11 touts Risor (on the SE coast) while HCWA has a big “Ti” near Stavanger (SW coast). (Bateman 624 directs attention to Sogndal, which is not especially close to either Risor or Stavanger.) Other large deposits include those of Quebec, India, Australia, Russia, Virginia and Florida, cp. HCWA. Allard Lake, Quebec (the largest accumulation known in 1950), Jacksonville, Florida and Travancore, India are especially attractive because of the low cost of ocean transport.


J. Paul Getty once said, “The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights.” In 1874, the French company founded to exploit the nickel of New Caledonia had to face great uncertainties: “The ore had to be brought across the ocean to France from an island in the South Pacific over 12,000 miles away; ships were few in number; no economic method of extracting the metal was known; skilled metallurgical labor hardly existed; and, to cap everything, the future outlet for nickel was a complete gamble.” (Howard-White 57). And one could mention “frequent native insurrections” and a native labor force which in the best of times had “strong views as to the folly of work”. Nonetheless, it persevered.

The seventeenth century is an age of discovery, of inspired (or not-so-inspired) risk-taking. The risks of seeking mineral wealth are reduced, but certainly not eliminated, by the book knowledge transmitted by Grantville.


1. Gorg Huff’s Peace Map is available on a T-shirt, posters of various sizes, note cards, and a calendar, at the 1632 store at www.cafepress.com/1632shop. The 16×20 poster is also available as a premium for the CoC Member, Agent and Organizer levels of the Ring of Fire Club. You can sign up at http://www.grantvillegazette.com/amember/signup.php.

2. The Bibliography and additional information appear in the Appendix posted to 1632.org.



About Iver P. Cooper

Iver P. Cooper, an intellectual property law attorney, lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and two children. Two cats and a chinchilla rule the household with iron paws. Iver has received legal writing awards from the American Patent Law Association, the U.S. Trademark Association, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and is the sole author of Biotechnology and the Law, now in its twenty-something edition. He has frequently contributed both fiction and nonfiction to The Grantville Gazette.


When not writing (or trying to get an “orange blob” off his chair so he can start writing), he has been known to teach swing dancing and folk dancing, or to compete in local photo club competitions. Iver adds, “I can’t get my wife to read my fiction, but she has no trouble cashing the checks.”

Iver’s story “The Chase” is in Ring of Fire II